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Working the web – membership building

You may have a great website, but if no one can find it then its not fulfilling its potential as a window onto your club, says Studio44.

You may have a great website, but if no one can find it then its not fulfilling its potential as a window onto your club, says Studio44.

Have you got a great website that no one can see? Do you want to attract more traffic to your website and consequently drive membership levels at your club? Do you always think to yourself ‘I wish I could be at the top of Google’? If the answer to any of these questions is ‘yes’, then please read on to see some of our top tips to help your website rise up the search engines and maximise on-going success.

What is SEO  SEO is the process of adjusting aspects of your website in order to improve the performance of your website within search engines. In this article, we will take you through how you can be in the best possible position to climb the search engine rankings, resulting in more visits to your website and, most importantly, more members for your club.

Do your research  All keywords have search volumes and by using the Google keyword tool, you can see how many people are searching for a specific keyword to help you gauge the best keywords to optimise around. Make sure the keywords you choose are goal oriented - for example, if you are looking to increase membership of your club, focus on keywords geared towards this.

Content  Once you have decided what keywords you want to opti- mise your website around, the next step is to build good quality, readable search engine-friendly content. Try and use as much content as you can on each page without affecting the cosmetics of the site and use the chosen key- word for that page 2-3 times (although don’t overuse it as your website will be seen as ‘keyword stuffing’ by search engines and your ranking may actually decrease!).

Internal link building  Internal link building is when you link from one page to another on your website. Building links internally is a great way of increasing the visibility of your website on search engines because such engines place a high level of impor- tance on links. By linking to a page internally, you are showing the search engine that this is the most relevant page on your website. When linking to another page inter- nally, it is important to have relevant text as the text on the link leaving the page (this is called anchor text). For example, if you were looking to optimise around the keyword ‘club members’, it would be beneficial to include ‘club members’ as the anchor text of the link that leaves the page.

Create external links  Building local, relevant external links is a key to any SEO strategy. Although it is tricky to create the volume of rele- vant links needed to your website yourself, you can get a head start by trying to create as many relevant external links to your website as possible. Ideally, links want to be relevant to your club both in terms of the industry you are in and geographically as high volume irrelevant links may penalise your website so concentrate on low volume, high quality links.

Blog  Blogs are great for SEO as search engines are more likely to index sites that are being regularly updated as it shows the club still exists and is functioning and they present an opportunity to build links. You can either launch a blog on your website or create a new website just for your blog. Both have their advantages, but from an SEO perspective, launching a blog on a whole new website with a new domain will be more significant as search engines place a greater emphasis on external links (i.e. links from a differ- ent domain) than internal links.

Maximising success  Once you have the visitors to your website, it is important you then think of strategies to encourage these visitors to your website to visit your club. Here are a few tips to help you maximise success through your website:

• Create an email address database of members and – wherever you can – visitors to your club as well as includ- ing a sign up box on your website to encourage visitors to sign up to your newsletters. You can then send email mar- keting campaigns whenever you want to promote a certain event, turn visitors into members by promoting a special offer or simply keep your members updated on what is going on at the club.

• Installing Google Analytics will help you see how many visitors you are getting to your website. If used correctly, Analytics can be a fantastic tool for measuring the perfor- mance of your website.

• Wherever you can, track where each of your members and visitors heard about you.


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